A common misconception about Arizona DUI law is that one can only be charged with DUI when driving above the “legal limit” of .08 BAC. This isn’t true because Arizona is a zero tolerance state; there’s no legal limit for an alcohol DUI.
Commonly referred to as Arizona’s zero tolerance DUI, A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(1) makes it a crime to drive while impaired to the slightest degree from liquor, drugs, or any combination thereof. All that must be proved by the prosecutor, beyond a reasonable doubt, is that the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs to the slightest degree.
To this DUI charge, it’s not a defense that the driver was only under the influence of a valid and legal medical prescription. That’s because Arizona prohibits impaired driving from any alcohol or drug. Legal or not, prescribed or not, Arizona drivers cannot be impaired by drugs.
Arizona’s impairment to the slightest degree almost always accompanies at least one other DUI charge. The first charge on your citation is likely “impaired to the slightest degree” under A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(1) followed by additional DUI charges of specific BAC levels. If police suspect that you’re under the influence of prescription or narcotic drugs, you’ll additionally be charged with drugged driving under A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(3).
In terms of alcohol allegations, the higher your BAC reading form the breath or blood tests, the more DUI charges you’ll face. For example, if you provide an alcohol reading of 0.08 BAC or higher, you’ll be charged with two alcohol DUI counts: (1) DUI while impaired to the slightest degree; and, (2) 0.08 BAC. If you provide an alcohol reading of 0.15 or higher, you’ll be charged with three alcohol DUI counts: (1) DUI while impaired to the slightest degree; (2) 0.08 BAC; and, (3) 0.15 BAC. If you provide an alcohol reading of 0.20 BAC or higher, you’ll be charged with four alcohol DUI counts: DUI while impaired to the slightest degree; (2) 0.08 BAC; (3) 0.15 BAC; and, 0.20 BAC. Additionally, if police believe that you’re under the influence of any drug, or your blood sample reveals the presence of any drug, or its metabolite, you’ll also be charged with drugged driving under Should state A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(3).
When police make observations that—they subjectively believe—indicate that you’re impaired, they’ll arrest you for DUI. There’s no minimum alcohol level. Police must only submit that you appeared to be impaired by drugs or alcohol based on their observations, training, and experience. Common police observations include bad driving, motor skills, field sobriety tests, bloodshot watery eyes, alcohol odor, slurred speech, appearance, and demeanor—among others.
Police and prosecutors love to say that any drop of alcohol or drugs causes impairment; they’ll harp on the idea that there’s zero tolerance in Arizona. However, we as a common sense citizenry understand this isn’t true, nor is it fair. As such, juries will often render a not guilty verdict to the slightest degree charge.
When defending against DUI, there are a multitude of defenses and negotiation strategies that can be implemented by a competent and experienced Mesa DUI defense lawyer. The facts of the case, specific DUI charges, prior driving history, the underlying investigation, alcohol and drug testing methods, the court, judge, and specific prosecuting agency, can all play into defending against DUI.
In any DUI charge, including impaired to the slightest degree, it’s important to look for police and testing errors, shortcomings in the prosecutor’s case, and any constitutional violations that might warrant a complete dismissal. A complete dismissal is the most desirable outcome in any criminal case and should always be explored when defending against DUI.
Depending on the facts and charges of your specific DUI case, there can be benefits of either going to trial or seeking a plea agreement with reduced charges or penalties. There’s usually a great benefit in negotiating down to a lesser or different charge due to mandatory minimum penalties.
Yes; however, it’s factually and circumstantially dependent on the individual DUI case. Plea bargaining and charge reduction are areas that an experienced DUI lawyer would discuss with the Defendant and Prosecutor. Whether it’s possible will depend on a number of factors that your criminal defense attorney can discuss with you. When the only charged DUI is impairment to the slightest degree or put 0.08, it is not uncommon to fight to obtain a reckless driving plea agreement if your case has holes.